Clinical IT and the Long Term, Post-Acute Care (LTPAC) Market

Lorren Pettit
Vice President, HIS and Research
HIMSS North America

Authored by: Lorren Pettit, Vice President, HIS and Research, HIMSS North America

Have you ever had a “show time” moment? You know, that moment when your boss turns to you in a meeting and says, “So, what do you think”?

The Long Term, Post-Acute Care (LTPAC) provider community (e.g., nursing homes, home health agencies, independent rehab facilities, etc.) had a type of “show time” moment recently when HIMSS (the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) actively sought the perspectives of LTPAC leaders for our 2017 HIMSS Leadership and Workforce SurveyHIMSS, a global, cause-based, not-for-profit organization focused on better health through information technology (IT) is widely recognized as one of the most influential voices in healthcare, here and around the world. Given the importance the HIMSS Leadership study plays in the health IT industry, we felt it necessary this year to begin incorporating the clinical IT priorities of LTPAC providers into our study. Fortunately, our friends at PointRight agreed to work with us in sending our survey invitation to their clients and partners so LTPAC had a “voice” when the study was unveiled to the media at this year’s HIMSS17 conference.

When given the spotlight, two big “themes” from LTPAC respondents emerged:

First. The clinical IT priorities of LTPAC and hospital providers closely mirror one another. When presented with a list of 18 issues involving clinical IT and asked to rate the priority of each issue this coming year, the following issues landed in the top five priority list for both provider groups:
• Quality and Patient Safety Outcomes (ranked #1 for both)
• Electronic Health Records (EHRs) (ranked #2 for both)
• Privacy, Security and Cybersecurity (ranked #3 for hospitals; ranked #5 for LTPAC)
• Care Coordination, Culture of Care, and Population Health (ranked #4 for both)
This finding is significant as it illustrates the many shared concerns between LTPAC and hospitals. True, there may be differences in the specifics each group has regarding these concerns, but the overlaps refute claims that both provider groups have few shared concerns. Indeed, I believe there are great opportunities for representatives from both types of organizations in a local market to set-up regular meetings with one another to discuss local challenges, opportunities and best practices around each one of these four shared priorities.

Second. It was a challenge to connect with IT leaders in LTPAC settings. To participate in our survey, respondents had to have some degree of influence or oversight of their facility’s IT system. Despite targeting those in LTPAC settings with operational and/or clinical leadership roles, over one-third of the individuals we contacted failed to meet our liberal survey participation requirement. Add to this, 13 percent of LTPAC respondents reporting to have no full-time IT staff, and a picture emerges suggesting health IT oriented organizations like HIMSS are challenged in ensuring IT concerns are appropriately championed in LTPAC care settings. This of course is not meant to imply that LTPAC providers are void of IT leaders. In fact, some of the most progressive health IT thinkers I have met hail from the LTPAC marketplace. It does suggest though, that the absence of universal IT leaders may lead to the digital profile of the LTPAC community growing more diffuse. A direction opposite to one the hospital market has pursued and one sure to cause frustration amongst hospital providers desiring to electronically coordinate care between care settings.

PointRight’s support of HIMSS’ annual Leadership and Workforce survey speaks well of an organization that has the foresight to ensure their partner’s voices are represented in industry leading research efforts. I look forward to furthering this effort in next year’s HIMSS study as I strongly believe LTPAC providers need to have a voice at the health IT planning table.

Finally, I welcome readers to download a complimentary copy of the complete 2017 HIMSS Leadership and Workforce Survey report.